Also see 12/17/95 article in Clearwater Times
12/15/96 -- 12:10 AM
Mystery surrounds Scientologist's death
By CHERYL WALDRIP of The Tampa Tribune
CLEARWATER - After spending half her life as a member of the
Church of Scientology, Lisa McPherson told friends she was ready
to get out.
At 36, she yearned to reunite with her mom and old friends and
start a new life in Dallas.
She hoped to visit them at Thanksgiving and vowed to be home for
good by last Christmas.
``She said she couldn't get into it over the phone but she said
she had a lot to talk about,'' said Kelly Davis, her friend since
childhood. ``She said she would explain when she got here.''
To Davis, her friend sounded ``like the old Lisa,'' not the
distant stranger she had been for a decade. The women laughed and
talked as they had before McPherson joined Scientology after her
high school graduation 18 years earlier.
``She had made the decision to get out and come back here and she
seemed happy,'' Davis said.
But on Thanksgiving a couple of weeks later, McPherson was not at
home. Instead, she was at the Fort Harrison Hotel, Scientology's
world spiritual headquarters.
She was taken there Nov. 18 by Scientologists for ``rest and
Seventeen days later, she was dead.
An autopsy by the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office showed
McPherson's 5-foot-9, 108-pound body was severely dehydrated, her
arms and legs were bruised, her skin was cracked and scaling. Her
left pulmonary artery was blocked by a fatal blood clot brought
on by dehydration and ``bed rest.''
``The Clearwater Police Department doesn't think she died of
natural causes,'' said spokesman Wayne Shelor.
People who attended the wake in Dallas say Scientologists told
them McPherson died of ``spinal meningitis.''
Tampa attorney Robert Johnson who represents Scientology said
church members initially suspected meningitis and only later
learned that was not the case.
``No one knew what had happened to her,'' Johnson said. He said
they now believe McPherson had a strep infection. Authorities
have no indication of that.
Police have questions about McPherson's death. Detectives wanted
to talk with Scientology employees Suzanne Schnuremberger, Ildiko
Cannovas and Laura Arrunada, but were told by the church that all
three had left the country. They are still being sought for
Johnson said those people no longer work for the church and
Scientology doesn't know how to locate them.
Clearwater Police Detective Sgt. Wayne Andrews said he thinks
Schnuremberger is in Switzerland or Germany, Cannovas is probably
in Hungary and Arrunada may be working in the medical field in
Mexico. He recently asked for help locating them by posting a
request for information on the Internet.
The three former employees ``worked in an office that would have
had control over her'' during her stay, Andrews said.
Church of Scientology spokesman Brian Anderson said that is
false. He said the three have no connection to McPherson's death
and the investigation is nothing more than a harassment campaign
against the church by police.
He also disputed that McPherson wanted to leave Scientology.
``She wasn't thinking of leaving the church,'' he said.
On the evening of Nov. 18, 1995, McPherson was driving her Jeep
Cherokee on South Fort Harrison Avenue. A motorcycle accident had
stopped traffic and McPherson smacked into a boat trailer being
towed by a Ford pickup.
``It was a minor accident, but paramedics at the scene said she
was wild-eyed,'' Detective Andrews said. ``She was walking down
the street and removed all of her clothes. The paramedics put her
in an ambulance, and although she had no physical injuries, took
her to the Morton Plant [Hospital] emergency room.''
A psychiatric nurse was called, Andrews said. He said church
members showed up at the hospital, said they didn't believe in
psychiatry and insisted on witnessing the interview.
``There was nothing physical wrong with her, but the doctor
wanted to keep her there,'' Andrews said. ``She signed out
against medical advice and left with several church members.''
``She goes to 210 South Fort Harrison for rest and relaxation and
the next time there's any indication of what's happening to her
is that on Dec. 5, 1995, she shows up at HCA Hospital in New Port
Richey and she's dead on arrival,'' Andrews said.
Scientologists took her to New Port Richey to be treated by
Scientologist physician David Minkoff, Andrews said.
Scientology spokesman Anderson disputes the detective's account
of the events. He said church members were not present for the
interview at the hospital and that McPherson did not sign out
against medical advice, but was released.
He said if she had been mentally unfit, hospital officials could
have had her committed under the Baker Act, but they did not.
Anderson said she was taken to the Fort Harrison Hotel because
she asked to go there, and there was no indication McPherson was
ill until the day of her death.
``Lisa at first didn't want to see a doctor but we talked her
into seeing a doctor,'' Anderson said. ``She knew Dr. Minkoff and
he is an expert in infectious diseases so that's why she was
Minkoff said the medical examiner's report is incomplete.
``There are major findings as to the probable cause of death that
explain a lot about what happened,'' Minkoff said.
He declined to say what those findings are because medical
records are confidential. He said the records are available to
officials through the hospital.
If the Medical Examiner's Office looks at them, he said, its
doctors will see what caused McPherson's death.
Anderson and Johnson said Minkoff's examination determined
McPherson had a strep infection. Anderson said such infections
can come on quickly, cause skin discoloration that looks like
bruising and can dehydrate a victim. Johnson said Minkoff found
the infection through a blood test.
Larry Bedore of the Pasco-Pinellas Medical Examiner's Office,
which conducted the autopsy, said he was not aware of any blood
tests being done, or even of McPherson's blood being drawn at the
He was not aware of any strep infection.
News of McPherson's death stunned her mother, Fannie McPherson.
``It's just been awful,'' she said. ``She was the last of my
All she knew was her daughter had been under pressure in her work
as a salesperson for AMC Publishing in Clearwater. Andrews said
the company is owned by Scientologists and has Scientology as one
of its customers.
``She called me three weeks before she died and she was crying,''
Fannie McPherson said. ``She said she was having trouble with her
sales. She said, `Mother, I've let my group down.' ''
No one with AMC returned telephone calls for comment.
After her daughter's death, Fannie McPherson came to Clearwater,
where she learned of the traffic accident and the odd behavior.
She said her daughter's Scientology friends told her that, upon
arrival at the Fort Harrison on Nov. 18, Lisa McPherson was put
in ``baby watch,'' which an ex-church member says is Scientology
terminology for solitary confinement.
Ex-church members say such confinement is used when a member has
a ``psychotic break'' or is threatening to flee the church.
``They are put in a room with no one and nothing,'' said Dennis
Erlich, a former Scientologist who now is an activist against the
Police say they cannot confirm or deny the ``baby watch''
Anderson said there is no such thing as ``baby watch,'' and that
McPherson was never held in such a fashion. ``That's completely
false and there is liability if you print that,'' Anderson said.
``It's not true.''
Johnson and Anderson say Erlich is not reliable. Johnson said
Erlich ``has a big ax to grind.'' Anderson said Erlich was thrown
out of the church.
McPherson's body was returned to Dallas. At the visitation,
Scientologists ``hovered'' around, said friend Kelly Davis.
``Ms. Mac couldn't breathe without them on top of her,'' Davis
said. ``They came to the funeral home in Dallas and they were
checking us out and hovering and listening.''
Davis said Scientologists asked to stay with Fannie McPherson at
her home, but she refused. They also insisted that Lisa McPherson
wished to be cremated.
``I never heard her say that's what she wanted, and I never would
have done it, but they convinced me that's what she wanted,''
Fannie McPherson said.
Anderson said those claims are false.
``I was there,'' Anderson said. ``Church members were not
hovering around. I was concerned about Lisa. She had a lot of
friends and we wanted to go and pay our respects.''
End of article
Ron the Astronaut
Scientology gives you the ability to leave your body at will. You are free to
go to other planets or even into the sun should you desire since when
"exteriorised" from the body you are not restricted to the limitations of the
flesh. Ron's adventure on Venus, when he nearly fell foul of a freight
locomotive, was an example of this sort of space exploration. Space exploration
of this kind is, of course, far safer and far less expensive than sending whole
people into space. However, there could well be limitations to this method as,
so far, no Scientologists have been able to return from planets with samples of
rock or other material.
Although travel to other planets sounds exciting we must not forget that our
own Earth is a planet as well and is worth exploring in this fashion too. The
upper atmosphere of Earth is worthy of study in its own right. Here is the
story of when Ron was in the Van Allen belt and was inexplicably drawn away.
streaming | download
And well, it starts like this -- it starts like this: I was up in the Van Allen
belt -- this is factual, and I don't know why they're scared of the Van Allen
belt, because it's simply hot. You'd be surprised how warm space is. Get down
amongst the clouds and so forth, it can get pretty cold and damp. But you get
well up and sunlight shining around and that sort of thing, it's quite hot. And
the Van Allen belt was radioactively hot. A lot of photons get trapped in that
area and so forth. And I was up there watching the sunrise. Well, that was very
interesting. And my perception was very good, and I was taking a look at Norway
and Essex and the places around, you know, and getting myself sort of oriented.
And then something happened to me that I didn't know quite what had happened to
me. I thought some facsimiles must have appeared in front of me, but they
didn't look like facsimiles. And some other things happened and I had a feeling
like I might possibly go into the sun. And a few other little
uncomfortablenesses there where... That wasn't what awed me. But I got
confused. I got confused because the sun was suddenly larger and then it was
smaller and somehow or another I was doing a change of space process that I
myself was not familiar with. And it made me sort of bite off my thetan
fingernails just a little bit, you know?
--- "Between Lives Implants", SHSBC #317. 23 July 1963. (1:30)